Message of the Planet

In psychological terms, we project our desires and qualities onto our fellow people. In general, we are projecting our fears, ambitions and perception system onto the unknown. An assumption exists that the communication system of the outer space is similar to that of the Earth civilisation and it may be able to respond or to receive messages. This is how “our” civilisation understands the infinite.

The beginning of “Very Hopeful” was an information on the internet - the naively human scientific 1977 attempt by NASA to inform extra-terrestrial civilisations about achievements on the Earth by means of 'generally recognisable' images and sound recordings. Outside the solar system, this message can be received no sooner than in 40 000 years. On the home page of “Very Hopeful” this information is followed by a concluding comment of Carl Sagan that the project says something very hopeful about life on this planet.

“Very Hopeful” is an interactive, attractive hi-tech activity that synthesises the aggregate of image and sound carried by the Voyagers 1 and 2 in 1977 with a selection from the cultural signs of the 90s. The authors of the project are participants of the E-Lab (Electronic Art and Media Centre, Riga, - the artists Arvids Alksnis (conception), Peteris Kimelis (sound), Dzintars Licis (programming) and Martins Ratniks (animation). The original version of “Very Hopeful” (Cool Places, Vilnius Contemporary Art Centre, 1998) consists of the project’s direct broadcasting on the internet, the material of the 70s, the re-make of the 90s for the projections of internet pages and the acoustic environment.

“Very Hopeful” transforms the assertion of the 70s into a reversed question: Can we say something very hopeful about life on this planet? In the project, the conceptualised material of phenomenological perception confronts the viewer with an ontological question.
“Can we say something very hopeful about art on this planet?”
“Can we say something very hopeful about future on this planet?”
“Can we say something very hopeful about media on this planet?” etc.
Text, visual and sound information contains the private answers of the artists as well as forms of the questions addressed to the viewer.
The Popular subject of mass media “We, cosmos and aliens” transforms into contemplation about the possibility to view the world and code this vision in generally recognisable schematic digital images and global stereotypes as well as in search for evaluation of the world processes.
Sound records and broadcast texts interact with local cultural and language background (texts are transmitted in the viewer’s language). The interpretation compiles the experience, knowledge and ideas of the viewer about reality and investigations in outer space...

In the context of the information technology age, “Very Hopeful” is a paraphrasing of the topicality, coding and semantics of information as well as the ability to read and interpret it. The project is a collaboration of conceptual, creative artists and also a meticulous selection and creation of visual, informational and sound material.

Just as the Beuys’ dialogue with the coyote did not result in a productive information exchange with the animal world, “Very Hopeful” most likely will fail to communicate with outer space civilisations. In both cases, of greater significance is the ritual role of the art object, which activates the viewer by offering him an opportunity to attempt extraordinary communication.

Mara Traumane